Looking with Love

Recently I was meeting with a dear friend over coffee and we were sharing what God is teaching us about life and love. The subject of pride came up and how difficult it is to show grace to individuals who don’t think they need it.

Immediately a story from Mark 10 came to mind. Jesus was on his way from one ministry opportunity to another, when a rich young ruler stopped him with an urgent question. Although in other places, Jesus is confronted by rulers, and religious leaders who are only asking questions in the hopes of trapping him, this young man seemed to be sincerely search.

Kneeling before Jesus he asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” This man had everything going for him by human standards. But he was still searching. He knew something was missing. Maybe he was looking for affirmation that what he had done was enough. For when Jesus reminded him of the commandments, he confidently asserted that he had kept all of them since his youth! All of them? That’s what he claimed. This man certainly seemed to have a confidence in his track record.

When Jesus heard this proud, even cocky response, Scripture tells us, “Jesus looked on him and loved him.” Jesus loved this self-important, rich guy. He loved him in the middle of all his own blindness, right where he was, begging for some kind of affirmation that he was indeed scheduled to receive eternal life. But Jesus didn’t offer affirmation. Because He loved the man, he exposed the deepest issue of his heart.

“Go,” He told the man. “Sell all you have and give to the poor. Then come and follow me, and you will have treasure in heaven.” It’s not the selling of goods, or the giving to the poor that results in eternal life. That wasn’t the point of what Jesus said. Jesus cut right to the heart of what the man trusted in: his own wealth and accomplishments. And he said, “Get rid of it, and trust in me instead.”

The story’s end is sobering, “The man went away deeply grieved, because he was very wealthy.” He rejected Jesus’ invitation into relationship. He rejected Jesus’ love. But Jesus went on loving.
This story compels me to allow that kind of love to flow through me. Not just the sweet and innocent. Not just to the needy and begging. But to those who don’t even know they need it. The proud, the ignorant, the stubborn. To those who might reject it. Because that’s Jesus’ way of loving.

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